Like it or not, the IT department of an organization plays a critical role in ensuring a business runs smoothly and smart business owners leverage technology to drive innovation, overcome challenges, and reduce costs. But not all businesses have the capital to invest in IT personnel, and even those that do are discovering that outsourcing their IT departments may be the most cost-effective way to get the support they need at a price they can afford.
How do Companies Manage IT?
There are a lot of different approaches to how businesses handle the IT functions within their organizations. Below are the most common models we see in the Oklahoma market.
- In-House IT
The organization has a dedicated employee(s) who is responsible for overseeing all the IT functions within the company. He is a skilled IT professional who typically has various technical certifications. His responsibilities may include maintaining the network to ensure optimal performance, developing technical processes and policies, safeguarding company data through cybersecurity best practices, providing technical support for employees, and procuring and managing hardware and software.
- Accidental IT
The organization does not have a specific IT resource, so it relies on an employee who is more technical than the rest of the staff, like the owner or the office manager, to troubleshoot issues when they arise. Although he is savvier than his co-workers, he is not professionally trained in information systems, so his knowledge is limited. When complex technical issues arise, organizations with accidental IT must seek help from an outside source to solve the problem.
The organization does not have a specific IT resource, nor does it have an “accidental IT” person to handle technical issues. Instead, it practices the “break/fix” model which is a reactive approach that means when something breaks, the organization contacts someone to fix it. In most cases, it pays an IT support company or a freelance IT professional an hourly rate to remedy the issue.
- Managed Service Provider
The organization outsources some or all IT functions to a third-party IT support company, also known as a Managed Service Provider (MSP). The MSP charges a pre-negotiated monthly fee for a defined set of services outlined in a Service Level Agreement. Although MSP’s are most suitable for organizations without an IT department, they can also augment an organization’s existing IT department by assisting with special projects such as hardware deployments or software upgrades. They are knowledgeable about computer systems, cloud computing, cybersecurity, etc. and can be made up of support specialists, systems administrators, network architects, and security analysts.
What services does a Managed Service Provider offer?
An MSP’s purpose is to support the IT infrastructure and business systems of its clients. From helpdesk services to network planning and design, an MSP offers expert guidance on what technologies to invest in, performs installation and maintenance of existing business systems, and helps support the evolution and growth of the company through strategic technology initiatives.
While no two managed IT service providers are alike, below is a list of common services you might expect one to offer:
- Network monitoring and management
- Systems operations and support services
- Cybersecurity and employee awareness training
- Data backup and disaster recovery
- Microsoft 365 licensing and administration
- Voice-over-Ip (VoIP) phone services
- Strategic planning and procurement
Benefits of Outsourcing your IT Department
- Reduced Costs
One of the most significant benefits of partnering with an MSP is the expense. An entry-level IT professional in Oklahoma may cost up to $50K per year while someone with years of experience may cost up to $100K. On the other hand, an MSP offers scalable solutions to fit your budget with packages starting at just a few hundred dollars a month. Second, the costs are predictable. In a break/fix model, the business pays a third party an hourly rate to solve the issue. But a cybersecurity attack or a data loss due to device failure may take hours and sometimes days to resolve, and one major incident can exceed the annual IT budget. An MSP, on the other hand, charges a pre-determined fixed rate so forecasting is accurate, and budgeting is easy.
- Smart Allocation of Resources
Organizations that rely on an accidental IT person should remember that every time that person spends time resolving a technical issue, that is time he is not spending performing the role for which he was hired. It is also important to note that this approach is reactive. MSP’s perform routine preventative maintenance in the background to catch and fix problems before they impact your business. This is critical to keep your business running smoothly, and failure to do this may leave your organization vulnerable to performance issues and cyber threats.
- Strategic Planning & Scalability
Many business owners do not even realize that their technology is holding them back, but savvy executives understand the importance of making sure their IT initiatives align with their corporate goals. The MSP should meet with the business owner regularly to review and adjust the technology strategy so there is a clear roadmap to support the company as it grows. This may include gaining access to new technologies, developing a procurement plan for replacement hardware, and making sure the company is compliant with workforce regulations.
Xcel Office Solutions is a full-service technology company that builds custom technology solutions for Oklahoma businesses. Please call (405) 748-4222 or visit us online today at www.xceloffice.com to see how we can help your business embrace digital transformation to get to the next level.